'American Idiot' Rocks

If you’re a Green Day fan who just can’t wait another month to see the band, you’ll probably want to check out “American Idiot” at Heinz Hall now through Feb. 24.

If you’re a Green Day fan who just can’t wait another month to see the band, you’ll probably want to check out “American Idiot” at Heinz Hall now through Sunday.

This one-act production is an adaptation of Green Day’s most popular album– “American Idiot”—featuring a powerhouse cast of talent, this musical is truly a sight for any punk rock fan.

The story is expanded from the album that follows three men—Johnny (Alex Nee), Will (Casey O’Farrell) and Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) as they struggle to find themselves. With lofty dreams of running away, Johnny and Tunny flee in hopes of achieving greatness while Will remains home to work on a relationship with his pregnant girlfriend.

While the excitement of the city enthralls Johnny, Tunny quickly abandons hope of greatness and opts to join the military and is shipped off to war. As a result, Johnny finds himself in the arms of a lovely lady whom he falls madly in love with, but addiction overcomes his better judgment and he loses the love of his life to the needle. 

Featuring all the songs from Green Day’s hit album such as the title track, “American Idiot,” “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Holiday” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” this musical is more like a rock concert than a classic musical – but it’s addictive and fun

However, a word of caution—if you’re thinking of bringing children to the production be warned there is a lot of foul language, sexual situations and a bit of edgy acting on stage. It may be more than you’d like your teenager to handle, depending on your beliefs.

One thing I felt was a bit lacking is in the actual dialogue of the show—or should I say lack there of. There is very little actual dialogue and the show progresses from one song to another. While you can follow the story based on the songs, it would have been nice to provide added back story with a little emotional depth.

As a cast, this team of future stars is a force to reckon with. In fact, if they performed the choreography from the stage to video it would make one heck of a workout DVD. Everyone on stage had to be exhausted by the end of the night from the jumping, dancing and abundance of head banging going on through the entire show.

One thing I noted throughout the show is the striking resemblance to the iconic rock opera, “Rent” which follows the story of a group of friends through their trials and tribulations over the course of one year.

In “Rent” we see Mimi struggling with addiction; much like Johnny did in “American Idiot.” We also see the star-crossed lover trying to save her—Roger in “Rent” and we have that in Johnny’s love here. In “Rent,” Mark struggles to find his place in the world and seeks to do his own thing—much like Tunny did in “American Idiot” when he joined the army.  Finally, we have harsh reality with Angel dealing with her deadly AIDS and Will struggling with the reality of being a father in “American Idiot.”

In the end, the group reconvenes as friends for a final number and they say their goodbyes. For “American Idiot” this featured the entire cast donning guitars to lead the audience in a rendition of “Time of Your Life”—a personal favorite of mine.

So the bottom line, if you’re a fan of Green Day and you’re considering checking out “American Idiot” you should go. It’s a great production with amazing dances, a lot of pure talented singers and a few good jokes. If you’re looking for an emotionally charged, deep story line with fabulous dialogue—I’d wait for the next production.

“American Idiot” will run through Sunday at Heinz Hall. For more information and tickets, please visit www.trustarts.org.


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